It has been said, “You can’t live
your life looking in the rear view mirror”. This is one reason why I hate
backing my car into parking spaces. It’s so counter-intuitive. It’s inimical to
the fact that God put eyes on the front of your head for a reason. We were not
meant to go backwards, but forward.
Yet we do exactly that. We live in places forgotten by time, but not by us . . . moments that, like vapor, have long dissipated.
Some of us try to live our lives driving our car in reverse. I have seen this in my own life where my mind’s eye is set aglow at a memory of how things used to be. Yet fixating on what is behind us is what keeps us from every type of healthy growth – including forward movement.
There are many reasons why our heads turn to the past, but I believe a prominent one is sentimentality which according to the online dictionary is “a thought, view or attitude based on strong emotions”. We know that there is no sin in having a fond memory, but there danger in remaining there . . . Of having an emotional connection to the past drive your present. When we peer into what was, it reminds us of better, happier purpose-filled days . . . Days when there seemed to be no limits to what could happen. Yet the more we look at the past and hold it against the present, the more we revise it until it becomes like good fiction.
Because many of us have been through the fire, there is a great temptation to do what is described next: Live under the notion that what I had was the best it will ever be.
Months and years of heavy, interminable burdens can lead any of us to conclude “the good I once knew was only a hiccup in my timeline - This my real life now”. Yet this wrongly assumes that God can’t create a new history for any of us - That the trial I am now under is my life and the pleasant memory but a dream. This same despondent attitude is found in Job when in his present despair he reminds his accusing friends of all he once had.
It is a fact that Cortez destroyed his ships when they landed in the newly-discovered Americas. Two years later, they conquered the Aztec empire. I wonder if he hadn’t destroyed his ships, would his soldiers have been tempted to go back and South America as we know it would have looked much different? We, like Cortez, must destroy whatever would tempt us to go back.
I am glad that Job’s story doesn’t just end with “what I had is as good as it gets”. There is one more thing that Job said that showed he expected to move on: “When I am tried I shall come forth as gold”. This is the outlook God is after in us. He wants us not to look at the mountain, but through it, to see Christ.
When the Word commands us “Looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith”, this implies not just taking your eyes off yourself, but not looking back . . . Because if you’re attention forward, you won’t be distracted with what’s behind..